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Interview key to pageant victory

June 29, 2003|by Chris Copley

chrisc@herald-mail.com

Miss Maryland Executive Director Sherry Rush said that in the preliminary events each contestant was scored in each event on a scale of 1 to 10 by the pageant's seven judges.

Just as in some Olympic events, the high and low scores are discarded and the remaining five scores are used to figure the contestant's mark for that aspect of the pageant.

Events are not all equal in value, Rush said. The evening gown competition, swimsuit competition and on-stage interview are each 10 percent. The talent competition is 30 percent of the total.

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The remaining 40 percent is based on an off-stage interview conducted earlier in the week. Each contestant stands at a podium before the seven-judge panel for a 12-minute interview in the style of a press conference.

This is the most important part of the pageant, Rush said.

"What judges look for is the ability to talk," she said. "They look for knowledge of current issues, knowledge of their platform issues."

The interview is demanding on the contestants, Rush said. It's tough by design.

"At the end of it, those judges know the contestant," she said. "I know one contestant who said to me, 'After a Miss Maryland interview, a job interview is a piece of cake.' "

Lisa Caputo, a volunteer with the Miss Maryland organization, said judges are looking for two things: a contestant who will represent Maryland well in Atlantic City during the Miss America competition and someone who will work hard in Maryland.

"They're looking for confidence, for sure," she said. "And poise. They want someone who's approachable, who you can talk to. If you're Miss Maryland, you talk a lot."

As an ambassador within the state, Miss Maryland speaks about her platform to government, school, religious and civic groups across the state.

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